Harder, Stronger, Pasta
ITALY’S FINEST EXPORT IS UNDER ATTACK FROM NEUROTIC, GLUTEN-FREE SPIRALISTERS. BUT MAKING SMART TWISTS TO THE COMFORT FOOD OF CHAMPIONS CAN GIVE YOU A POTENT DIETARY WEAPON.
AAs long ago as 2011, a global survey (carried out by Oxfam TK) crowned the Italian staple as the world’s most popular food, satisfying hungry diners everywhere from Britain to Guatemala. Heck, it even beat steak and pizza.
But since then, pasta has found itself in hot water. Sales have dropped by 13 percent in western Europe and 6 percent in the US. Even in Italy itself, “pasta-geddon” has seen business plummet by a whopping 25 percent.
The gluten-free revolution has lit the fusilli on pasta’s explosive decline in sales in Britain. Meanwhile, spaghetti has been strangled by the spiraliser movement, as people swop carbohydrate for ribbons of nutrient-rich, flavour-poor vegetables. (Marks & Spencer alone saw courgette sales spike by 20 percent last year.) With high-protein and low-carb diets banishing pasta to the naughty step, rice and quinoa have muscled in. But bad science has somehow got mixed up in the sauce. Last year, an international Scientific Consensus Statement confirmed that pasta is indeed a healthy carbohydrate and a key part of the Mediterranean diet –
still pretty much the best thing going in terms of eating your way to a longer lifespan.
Clinical trials have also confirmed it is excess calories – not carbs alone – that cause obesity. In fact, with a surprisingly low glycaemic index (42 for brown, 46 for white), pasta causes less blood sugar spikes than brown rice (50), quinoa (53) and couscous (65). Chew on that.
“There’s nothing intrinsically bad about pasta,” confirms performance nutritionist Joseph Agu. “For a start, gluten intolerance affects just 1 percent of the population, so the other 99 percent can ignore it.
Also, low-carb diets tend to impair your ability to exercise at high capacity, which is essential for weight management and fitness.
“Moreover, carbs are essential for helping tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier to produce serotonin – meaning going without it can seriously upset your mood. But you knew that already.”
So has pasta been unfairly maligned? We think so. If you’re canny with your pack of Carecci, quality pasta allied with smart ingredients can still deliver winning results to help balance blood sugar, mobility and mind.
Grab a deep pan, a long fork and dig in.